WASHINGTON — Airlink, a rapid-response disaster relief organization that links pre-approved non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with airlines, has partnered with nonprofit partners Afya Foundation, AmeriCares, and Samaritan’s Purse, airline partner Qatar Airways, and logistics partner LIFT to ship material aid to Kathmandu in response to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25, 2015. These organizations will be providing critically-needed medical supplies and shelter provisions to those in need throughout Nepal.
The flights, departing from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), began arriving at Kathmandu International Airport (KTM) on May 19, and will carry approximately 26.3 tons (57,842 pounds) of humanitarian aid for earthquake victims. Airlink overcame a number of logistical challenges in order to make delivery of this shipment. Because of high elevation and mountainous terrain, KTM is a particularly difficult airport to access, and limitations have been imposed regarding the landing times and maximum payload allowed on incoming aircraft carrying relief cargo. Significant flight delays and cancellations at KTM also continue to be reported due to issues with flight clearances.
Along with the air transportation provided by Qatar Airways, resources from Airlink’s Disaster Response Partnership made these shipments into Nepal possible. This program unites financial donors, whose gifts allow for the purchase of air capacity, with airline partners, who may donate or discount passenger and cargo lift directly, as well as logistics partners, fuel and other air service suppliers, and frequent flyer miles donors.
While this is the first cargo shipment Airlink has coordinated in response to Nepal’s earthquakes, the organization has already assisted with transportation for 66 relief workers through partnerships with British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Etihad Airways, and by utilizing United Charity Miles donated by individual frequent flyers. Together, Airlink’s partners now have transported canine search and rescue teams, medical personnel, relief coordination teams, and assessment and reconnaissance volunteers, as well as material aid for both general and medical relief.
Airlink is proud of the progress it is making in providing a coordinated response to the situation in Nepal. While great strides are being made, the need for relief there is far from over. More than $140,000 in funds for Nepal relief have been raised through a recent CrowdRise fundraiser sponsored by United Airlines. However, financial resources, air assets, and frequent flier miles are still greatly needed in order to facilitate the movement of critical aid cargo and relief personnel to Nepal and in future disasters. For more information on how to donate and become part of this effort, visit www.crowdrise.com/unitedreliefnepal-airlink.